Pelosi's party begins to turn on her after defeats, stagnation

Jun 22, 2017 13

Democrat Jon Ossoff finished behind Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s special House election on Tuesday night, but the real loser could turn out to be House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

While Pelosi is in no immediate danger of losing her House perch, she’s increasingly becoming the face of a period of Democratic stagnation that’s seen a once-mighty majority systematically deteriorate during her tenure.

“I think you’d have to be an idiot to think we could win the House with Pelosi at the top,” Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Tex., bluntly told Politico. “Nancy Pelosi is not the only reason that Ossoff lost, but she certainly is one of the reasons.”

As Speaker of the House in 2009, Pelosi presided over a 255-seat majority which was wiped out by the next election, when Democrats fell to 193 seats. In three election cycles since then, Pelosi’s party has netted a single House seat.

Those seeking to be part of the next Democratic majority are already seeking separation from Pelosi.

Democrat Joe Cunningham, running to unseat Republican Mark Sanford in South Carolina, tweeted soon after announcing his candidacy: “If elected, I will not vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker. Time to move forward and win again.”

And those calls are coming from Washington, D.C., too.

Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., told CNN “we need a leadership change. It’s time for Nancy Pelosi to go, and the entire leadership team.”

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Oh., who ran against Pelosi in the last leadership election, didn’t invoke his former rival by name, but did by association, saying the Democratic product has grown spoiled and rotten in recent years.

“Here is the truth: the Democratic Party has a toxic brand, one that is worse than Donald Trump’s in many parts of the country,” Ryan wrote in a Medium post.

Pelosi is in an undeniably tough spot. Her longevity and leadership position makes her tough to unseat; however, it also makes her a target for the more progressive wing of her party that is upset with those in so-called “establishment” posts. And her unpopularity with Republicans of conservative and moderate stripes has made her an easy anchor to tie Democratic candidates to in competitive races.

“I hope they keep Nancy for 10 more years. At least another decade,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told “Fox & Friends” on Thursday. “We have all the ads done. They worked perfectly in Georgia. We know how to run against a Nancy Pelosi-run party.”

A source close to Pelosi told Fox News the criticism “bothers her,” particularly as it’s coming from all angles, as opposed to any attacks she faced after the November elections.

“But this is different,” said one source. “Death by a thousand cuts.”

One senior House Democratic member told Fox News: “There’s going to be discontent, but it’s more pronounced now. There is some angst about the elections.” 

Pelosi, first elected in 1987 from her California district, has sought to stop the landslide beneath her feet by emphasizing the positive takeaways from the highly competitive Georgia race, which Democrats poured money and time into in hopes of dealing President Trump a high-profile defeat. In a “Dear Colleague” letter obtained by The New York Times, Pelosi, who has resisted all calls to step aside, spoke of a unifying message “we can all embrace and utilize in our districts.” During a recent caucus meeting, Pelosi also said the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise by a disgruntled Democratic voter may have contributed to the Georgia loss, Politico reported.

But the spin being deployed by Pelosi and others in leadership is growing tougher to digest for some in the House.

“It was probably one of the more disturbing caucus meetings that I’ve ever been in,” Rice told Politico. “And everyone pretty much sat in silence, and I’d like to think that they were as shocked as I was that they were hearing the spin that was being put on this loss.”

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Is the Democrats' brand 'worse than Trump'? Some party officials admit it is

Jun 22, 2017 18

Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, made some candid comments that caught my eye yesterday.

When he’s back home, Murphy said, he sometimes chats people up on a commuter bus, and “they are never talking about issues like Russia. They are not talking, frankly, what’s on cable news at night.”

And then, in the “Morning Joe” interview, he took a whack at his own party: “The fact that we have spent so much time talking about Russia has been a distraction from what should be the clear contrast between Democrats and the Trump agenda, which is on economics.”

Bingo. Running mainly against Donald Trump didn’t work for the Dems in 2016, and it’s not working now.

The news peg for these recriminations, of course, is the Democrats losing Tuesday’s special election for a House seat in Georgia. I never spent much time on that race because I never believed that Jon Ossoff, despite raising $25 million, was going to win in a heavily Republican district that he didn’t even live in.

But since the media collectively declared it a referendum on Trump—and would have gone haywire if Ossoff had won—there is a reckoning about what the Democratic Party stands for.

Ohio Democratic congressman Tim Ryan told the New York Times that his party is “toxic” in large swaths of the country: “Our brand is worse than Trump. We can’t just run against Trump.”

The president, for his part, tweeted that “the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0.”

This reminds me of the endless debates after Hillary Clinton’s loss about why she didn’t have much of an economic message.

I wrote yesterday about how the special counsel’s investigation of President Trump now dominates the media and political culture. But to the extent that the Democrats use much of their energy bashing Trump, they are failing to connect with voters who aren’t addicted to Beltway scandals.

Times conservative Ross Douthat says the party’s problem is that while the country has moved left, the Democrats have moved even more left:

“On immigration, for instance, public opinion had actually become modestly more liberal in the years leading up to Trump — but the Democrats are now almost an open-borders party, so even modest skepticism about immigration tends to push voters toward the Republicans. On abortion, where public opinion has been stable, Democrats have ditched their old attempts at moderation, undercutting the gains that secularization and the liberal turn on other culture-war issues should have naturally delivered them. And the party’s base has no patience anymore for the kind of careful triangulation that Bill Clinton practiced on issues like crime and welfare policy, or for the then-Democratic voters who were reassured by it.”

We in the press always hype special elections. It would not have been a crucial blow to Trump if Ossoff had won in Georgia, and it’s not a devastating blow to Democrats that, despite raising $25 million, he couldn’t win in a heavily Republican district.

But his loss could serve as a wakeup call for liberals who think the Trump presidency is so disastrous that they’re on track to win the House next year. That may prove to be a mirage.

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of “MediaBuzz” (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz. 

Trump announces hopes for 'solar wall' along US southern border

Jun 22, 2017 24

President Trump on Wednesday made his first public pitch to install solar panels on his border wall with Mexico.

It was the first time that the president mentioned his plan publically. Earlier this month, two congressional Republicans told The Wall Street Journal about the plan after a private meeting with Trump.

“Think of it,” Trump told the audience Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “The higher it goes, the more valuable it is. Pretty good imagination, right?”

The president joked, “This way, Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that’s good. A solar wall. Makes sense.”

In March, two experts wrote an opinion article in The Journal about the potential benefits of  a solar wall.

Vasilis Fthenakis, director of the Center for Life Cycle Analysis at Columbia University, and Ken Zweibel, the director of the Solar institute at George Washington University, wrote that a “massive string of photovoltaic panels could be placed on the Mexican side of the wall. They said a solar wall may be more practical than a traditional wall.

“We estimate that building a roughly 2,000-mile-long single-row solar wall would cost less than $1 billion, plus site preparation costs such as fencing and road construction,” they wrote. “Compare that with Mr. Trump’s wall, which could cost tens of billions of dollars.”

Trump has been criticized by some of his supports for what they see as a lack of attention to one of his key campaign promises. Construction has not begun and there has been resistance from Congress. The White House insists that the plan is on track.

Days after taking office on Jan. 20, Trump signed an executive order calling for a “physical wall along the southern border.” But the order didn’t include specific details or say how it would be funded or how much it might cost.

Officials from the Homeland Security Department, which is overseeing bids for the wall, have said repeatedly they don’t know yet the length of the wall the administration will ultimately want to build or how much it will cost.

Mexican officials have flatly rejected paying for the wall. U.S. lawmakers haven’t been enthusiastic about paying for it either.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Edmund DeMarche is a news editor for Follow him on Twitter @EDeMarche.

Trump in Iowa: President calls for barring immigrants from welfare for five years

Jun 22, 2017 20

President Trump announced Wednesday night that he will soon ask Congress to pass legislation banning immigrants from accessing public assistance within five years of entering the U.S.

“The time has come for new immigration rules that say … those seeking immigration into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years,” Trump told a campaign-style rally in Grand Rapids, Iowa.

Trump’s proposal would build on the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which allows federal authorities to deport immigrants who become public dependents within five years of their arrival. Many of that law’s provisions were rolled back during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, but Trump’s proposal would make more categories of federal benefits off-limits to immigrants.

Currently,states typically have the authority to determine eligibility for local public assistance programs.

Foreigners with non-immigrant visas and those who don’t have legal status are generally prohibited from those benefits altogether.

Trump’s proposal would also prevent the admission of people who are likely to become so-called “public charges” within five years of their arrival. The concept of “public charge” has been part of U.S. immigration law for over a century. It allows the government to bar entry to individuals who are likely to seek public assistance. Trump is expected to propose toughening up the rules regarding “public charge” and ensuring that they are enforced.

The administration circulated a draft executive order to make Trump’s proposed changes earlier this year. However, Trump’s remarks Wednesday indicated that he wants Congress to codify his plan into law.

In requesting these changes, the White House will cite a 2015 report from the Center for Immigration Studies that found 51 percent of households headed by an immigrant are using some form of public assistance, compared to 30 percent among non-immigrant families. That report has been disputed by critics who say it does not take into account the nuances of many immigrant families.

Fox News’ John Roberts and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trump likely to reveal this week whether secret Comey tapes exist

Jun 21, 2017 20

Sean Spicer, the White house press secretary, said Tuesday that he expects an announcement “this week” on whether there are taped phone conversations between President Trump and his former FBI director, James Comey.

So far Trump has, at best, been coy about his possession of such tapes.

In May, Trump fired a loud warning shot, tweeting, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

The president last month told reporters that “I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the near future” but offered no hints as to whether the tapes exists, except saying that some journalists would “be very disappointed” to find out the answer.

The House intelligence committee has asked White House counsel Don McGahn to provide an answer to the question about tapes by Friday. Under a post-Watergate law, the Presidential Records Act, recordings made by presidents belong to the people and can eventually be made public. Destroying them would be a crime.

Comey testified before the Senate that Trump asked for his loyalty and asked for him to drop the probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Some have raised the possibility that Trump’s request constituted obstruction of justice, but the president has yet to produce the tapes that could theoretically clear his name.

The investigation was originally launched to look into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Trump has at times cast doubt on that conclusion, and Spicer said Tuesday that he has yet to discuss with the president whether he believes that Moscow was behind the election interference.

“I have not sat down and talked to him about that specific thing,” Spicer said.

America’s top intelligence officials have concluded that Russia undoubtedly interfered in America’s 2016 presidential campaign. Characterizing it as the “high-confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community,” Comey testified that there is no doubt that the Russians meddled “with “purpose,” “sophistication” and technology. Trump, meanwhile, has dismissed investigations into the meddling and potential collusion with his campaign associates as a “witch hunt.”

Robert Mueller, the special counsel now overseeing the investigation, is slated to meet with top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. He will talk with the chairman of the committee, GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and the top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. He’ll also meet with GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Part of the reason for the meeting is to ensure there is no conflict between Mueller’s probe and the work of the congressional committees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

Trump in Iowa: President says he asked for health bill 'with heart'

Jun 21, 2017 26

President Trump celebrated two more Republican victories in congressional special elections Wednesday and talked up the prospect of legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare at a campaign-style rally in Iowa.

“I hope we are going to surprise you with a really good plan,” Trump told a crowd of just under 6,000 people in Cedar Rapids. “I’ve been talking about a plan with heart. I said, ‘Add some money to it!’

Trump had called the House’s version of the legislation “mean” in a meeting with several Republican senators last week. He spoke hours before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was scheduled to roll out a so-called “discussion draft” of the upper chamber’s health bill.

Trump reminded his supporters that Republicans “have a very slim” majority to pass a healthcare bill in the Senate and “basically can’t afford to lose anybody.” He also slammed congressional Democrats as “obstructionists” and repeated his line that “if we got the single greatest health care plan in the history of the world, we would not get one Democratic vote.”

However, the president also suggested that he would be amenable to altering the legislation if Democrats would come onboard.

“If we could just get a few votes from the Democrats,” Trump said, “it would be so easy and so beautiful.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump visited a local community college, where he toured agriculture technology innovations and reveled in Karen Handel’s victory in a special election in a House district in suburban Atlanta.

“We’re 5-0 in special elections,” said Trump at Kirkwood Community College.

He applauded Handel as well as Republican Ralph Norman, who notched a slimmer-than-expected win in a special election to fill the South Carolina congressional seat vacated by Mick Mulvaney.

“Last night was very exciting,” the president said.

Trump’s Cedar Rapids rally was the fifth held in his first five months in office.

Iowa, with its large share of independent voters, could be a proving ground for whether Trump can count on the support of voters beyond his base. Unaffiliated voters, or “no party” voters as they are known in Iowa, make up 36 percent of the electorate, compared with 33 percent who register Republican and 31 percent registered as Democrat.

Self-identified independents in Iowa voted for Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by a 13-percentage-point margin last year, according to the Fox News exit poll. That margin helped Trump take the state by nearly 9 points after Barack Obama won it for Democrats the previous two elections.

Trump held a Des Moines rally in December as part of his transition-era “thank you” tour of states he had won, but has not been back to Iowa since.

Trump’s stop at Kirkwood Community College was intended to draw attention to the school’s advancements in high-tech agriculture.

He was joined by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross as part of the administration’s effort this week to highlight the importance of technology.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Senate GOP health bill reportedly would roll back ObamaCare taxes, penalties

Jun 21, 2017 30

Senate Republicans’ bill to replace ObamaCare would roll back the 2010 health care law’s taxes and penalties on people for not buying coverage, reduce Medicaid expansion and give states more leeway on opting out of its regulations, according to a draft obtained Wednesday by The Washington Post.

The Associated Press reported the Senate bill would also largely retain the subsidies Obama provided to help millions buy insurance, which are pegged mostly to people’s incomes and the premiums they pay. The House-approved tax credits were tied to people’s ages, a change that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said would boost out-of-pocket costs to many lower earners.

The AP also reported that the Senate plan would drop the House bill’s waivers allowing states to let insurers boost premiums on some people with pre-existing conditions. That’s a departure from the House plan, which President Trump privately called “mean” in a meeting with GOP senators last week. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,said earlier this week that a draft would be ready within days and that a vote could come as early as Thursday.

“We believe we can do better than the Obamacare status quo, and we fully intend to do so,” said McConnell.

The GOP-led House passed its bill in May. Approximately 13 Senate Republicans have been working behind closed doors on the upper chamber’s version.

Congressional Democrats don’t support ObamaCare repeal and replace efforts but acknowledge the law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, has problems with rising premium cost while providing Americans with fewer policy choices.

If Democratic opposition to the bill is unanimous, Republicans can suffer defections by no more than two of their 52 senators and still push the measure through the Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

North Korea: Tillerson, Mattis still playing China card with Pyongyang

Jun 21, 2017 20

One day after President Trump appeared to give up on China as an effective mediator in the West’s long-running disputes with North Korea, two of the president’s most senior cabinet officials signaled that the administration has not altogether abandoned the use of China as an intermediary.

“China understands that the United States regards North Korea as our top security threat,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Wednesday. “We reiterated to China that they have a diplomatic responsibility to exert much great economic and diplomatic pressure on the regime if they want to prevent further escalation in the region.”

Tillerson’s comments came after he and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis concluded the first session of a new ministerial-level forum for bilateral exchanges with China that was established by the Trump administration. Senior U.S. officials said they hope the diplomatic and security dialogue, a channel similar to those employed by previous administrations, will be useful for “increasing mutual trust” between the U.S. and Beijing.

The already tense dynamic with North Korea intensified after Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old Ohio native held captive in North Korea for 17 months on spurious charges of subversion, was returned home last week in a near-comatose state. He died on Monday.

In public remarks, President Trump has appeared visibly moved by the incident, and on Tuesday, he tweeted in frustration: “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded early Wednesday with a spirited defense of its mediation efforts.

“The crux and focal point of the nuclear issue does not lie with China,” said ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang. “We have been playing an important and constructive role in this regard…and our efforts are indispensable.”

Chinese officials said they had “stepped up” amid recent instability on the Korean peninsula and called on all parties to demonstrate “collective wisdom.”

Tillerson and Mattis met privately with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s Joint Staff Department. The Chinese delegation said nothing during a photo opportunity with reporters.

Later, during a brief news conference featuring only the American officials, Mattis spoke bluntly about the Warmbier case – but without him or Tillerson offering any indication as to how they intend to hold North Korea accountable for the student’s death, as numerous U.S. officials have vowed to do.

“We see a young man go over there healthy and — with a minor act of mischief — come home dead basically, die shortly — immediately after he gets here,” Mattis said. “There’s no way that we can look at a situation like this with any kind of understanding. This goes beyond any kind of understanding of law and order, of humanity, of responsibility towards any human being.”

James Rosen joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1999. He currently serves as the chief Washington correspondent and hosts the online show “The Foxhole.” His latest book is “A Torch Kept Lit: Great Lives of the Twentieth Century” (Crown Forum, October 4, 2016).  

Dems acknowledge anti-Trump message falling short after Georgia loss

Jun 21, 2017 25

Democrats acknowledged Wednesday that their anti-Trump campaign message has failed to connect with voters this year in the wake of two more party losses in House special elections.

Voters “want us to focus on jobs and the economy,” Illinois Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos told Fox News’ “Happening Now” on Wednesday. “I get almost no questions about Russia. I get no recommendations that I [should] support impeachment.  … All of the other sideshows are not what people want us to focus on.”

The moment of reflection comes after Republican Karen Handel defeated Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s closely watched House runoff, despite millions in out-of-state donations pouring into his campaign amid Democratic hopes that an Ossoff win would deliver a rebuke to President Trump.

Instead, Republicans cited Handel’s win as a rebuke to Democratic “obstruction.”

Democrats had entered the 2017 special elections expecting to ride the wave of opposition to Trump – hoping his low approval ratings, popular-vote loss and now-persistent allegations his campaign team colluded with Russians to influence the election would translate to Democratic support at the polls.

However, Democrats have lost all four House races so far this year where they sought to flip a Republican-held seat.

Georgia’s race marked their highest-profile defeat, in what became the costliest-ever House election.

The campaigns and outside groups combined to spend over $50 million. In terms of individual donations, Ossoff vastly outpaced Handel, with nearly $24 million to her $4.5 million — though Handel was boosted by outside groups.

Democrats on Tuesday also lost a special election for the House seat held by Mick Mulvaney, now the White House budget director.

The other two races this year where Democrats failed to turn a seat from red to blue were in Kansas and Montana — with their last chance coming Aug. 15 for the Utah seat of outgoing Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

Bustos was not the only Democrat to lament the conditions of the party in the wake of Tuesday’s losses.

As the final returns in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District were tallied, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton tweeted the loss “better be a wakeup call” for Democrats.

“Business as usual isn’t working. Time to stop rehashing 2016 and talk about the future,” he continued in a series of tweets that within minutes became post-election news. “We need a genuinely new message, a serious jobs plan that reaches all Americans and a bigger tent, not a smaller one. Focus on the future.” 

At the House Democrats’ weekly meeting the next morning on Capitol Hill, caucus Chairman Joe Crowley addressed Moulton’s frustration.

The New York lawmaker said he also was “disappointed” and the party would evaluate the results of all 2017 races and have a “healthy debate” in which members will “have an opportunity to express their concerns.”

To the question of whether Democrats had focused too much on Trump and national issues, Crowley said the party’s 2018 strategy to win control of the House by taking 24 GOP-held seats would include a mix of national and local issues.

“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” he said.

Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who unsuccessfully challenged Nancy Pelosi for her leadership post, was quoted in The New York Times saying, “Our brand is worse than Trump.”

Pelosi, meanwhile, remained upbeat – telling colleagues in a letter Wednesday, “The House was in play before the Georgia race. The House remains in play now.” She said Democrats will have to put forth their “message.”

While Democrats tried to tie Handel to Trump, Republicans linked Ossoff to House Minority Leader Pelosi — with TV ads and mailers featuring images of her and reminders about Ossoff’s campaign getting millions from wealthy East and West coast liberals like her.

Crowley suggested that tying a candidate to party leader is standard campaign practice, a line repeated hours later by Michigan Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell.

“There are always questions about leadership. … That’s a reality of elections. It’s all of our responsibility,” she told Fox News’ “America’s News HQ,” amid renewed questions about Washington Democrats having failed to connect with working Americans.

David Payne, a Republican strategist and president of digital communications firm Codavate, said Wednesday that the parties were equally guilty of invoking Trump and Pelosi and that “local politics still reigns supreme.”

“They wanted to nationalize the race,” Payne said. “They wanted to turn it into something like a beat down.”

He pointed out that Ossoff eventually dumped the “Make Trump Furious” motto and made fiscally conservative promises like tax cuts for businesses in a district held by Republicans for nearly four decades.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who once held the Georgia seat in question, wrote on, “For the Left this race had been portrayed as a referendum on Trump. After Trump’s tweets and robocalls, there was a verdict. Trump won.”

Congressional Black Caucus rejects Trump invitation for second meeting

Jun 21, 2017 19

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) said Wednesday that its members had voted to reject an invitation to meet with President Trump, claiming that the administration’s policies are causing “legitimate alarm” among African-American lawmakers and their constituents.

CBC Chairman Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., wrote in a letter to Trump that proposals in the president’s budget would “not only devastate the communities that we represent, but also many of the communities that supported your candidacy.”

Richmond specifically cited proposed cuts to Pell Grants for low-income college students and eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps seniors and others on fixed incomes heat their homes. He claimed those cutbacks would “destroy minority communities, all while your Administration and Congressional Republicans consider proposals to provide tax cuts for the richest Americans.”

The chairman also criticized the Republican effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare, claiming the Affordable Health Care Act passed by the House last month would “strip millions of black people of their health care.”

Richmond said the caucus had expressed its concern several times, including in eight letters and a document, but the administration has failed to respond.  Trump and top members of the caucus met in March, but Richmond said there has been no follow-through on promises like helping black lawmakers meet with Trump’s Cabinet.

“The CBC, and the millions of people we represent, have a lot to lose under your administration,” Richmond wrote. “I fail to see how a social gathering would benefit the policies we advocate for.”

“We want to talk and deal with issues that are of concern to the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and we’ve not gotten any response,” Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., told the Associated Press. “My opinion and the opinion of most of just about all of the members of the CBC is that the board met (with Trump). They gave him substantive issues which we wanted to deal with and they have not been dealt with.”

Meeks added, “Until we can deal with substance and issues, what’s the benefit of a meeting?”

The Congressional Black Caucus has 49 members, all of whom are Democrats.

Richmond’s letter was in response to a June 9 invitation from White House aide Omarosa Manigault, who won fame as a contestant on “The Apprentice,” Trump’s long-running reality show.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.